Intensive processing has served as an effective tool for Vietnamese shrimp exporters to improve their competitive capacity in the context of a steep increase in the global supply which brought down the price and demand for shrimp in major markets.
According to Ho Quoc Luc, former Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) and Chairman of Sao Ta Foods JSC, Vietnamese firms are capitalising on their processing strengths to increase the added-value of their products.
Currently, Vietnam houses 100 processing plants with total average capacity of some 500,000-700,000 tonnes of shrimp each year, which are able to double their scale in just a short period of time. Meanwhile, large-scale plants like Minh Phu, Vinh Hoan, and Hung Vuong equipped with state-of-the-art technologies can satisfy the demands of giant distributors, he said.
Thanks to the well-developed processing industry, Vietnamese shrimp has been favoured by foreign purveyors, said Tran Van Linh, Chairman of Thuan Phuoc Seafoods and Trading Corporation. He added that more foreign customers are buying Vietnamese processed shrimp as several free trade deals come into force, helping the products take full advantage of tax preferences in foreign markets.
VASEP statistics have shown that this year to the end of September, total shrimp export value was estimated at more than 2.7 billion USD, a fall of 3 percent year-on-year. However, the turnover from white-leg shrimp, which accounted for 68 percent of the country’s total shrimp export, rose by 2 percent.
Last year, white-leg shrimp earned the country 2.5 billion USD in export revenue, 50 percent of which was through value-added products.
Although the processing industry brings lucrative business to local firms, they could earn more if their shrimp materials were sold as cheap in that in India, Ecuador, and Indonesia.
To compensate for high material costs and lower production costs, many leading seafood firms are investing heavily in advanced technologies and equipment. Thuan Phuoc and Minh Phu seafood corporations have made their processing line automated to cut labour costs and increase productivity.
Experts said that the Government should take suitable measures to assist the shrimp industry in planning, infrastructure investment, and control of the trading of antibiotics and other harmful chemicals in the market towards sustainable shrimp development in the future.